Friday, February 12

DC: "It's not legal in the District to save a parking space in public space, with chairs or cones, etc."

One issue after a big snowfall is digging out your car and making sure that you have a space to park it when you return at the end of the day. In many places, people will 'reserve' the space they dug out with a garbage can or whatever. However, the DC Government made it clear after these storms that the practice is illegal:
Chevy Chase, DC: My street has already been plowed three times. Thank you, DDOT.

Do you have advice on etiquette for saving parking spots we have shoveled? Boston rules? Anybody can grab it?

John Lisle: That's one of the most contentious issues, pitting neighbor against neighbor. It's not legal in the District to save a parking space in public space, with chairs or cones, etc. It would be preferable if neighbors pulled together to clear multiple spaces for everyone. - Washington Post
OK, the suggestion is a joke. We lived in DC for the 2003 February blizzard and we were the only ones digging out our car. then for the next week, each day after work I had to dig out a new space because someone would take mine.

While they are so busy 'redistributing' snow removal labor via the law, how about also passing a law requiring car owners to own a shovel? It was amazing how many people in my apartment complex did not own a shovel of any kind as we all dug out of this storm. At least most people did dig their cars out. It was a huge difference between the attitude of DC residents and the people that live around me in Northern Virginia. At the moment there is lots of complaints against the DC Government about the poor progress of snow removed. However, the last bit of work, actually freeing the car, needs to be done by the car owners. And to do that, they need a shovel.

One more think, illegal or not, what kind of person moves a trash car or chair or whatever and takes another person's spot? Personally I would not do that, simply out of fear that the person who reserved that spot might damage my car or block me in. You can never tell about other people.

Here is a little more on the subject:
Washington's long history of relatively mild winters has left residents without a common sense of snow etiquette to help answer that question.

Boston has codified its citizens' right to benefit from their backbreaking snow-clearing labor; a city law says that if you dig out your car in a snow emergency, a lawn chair or trash can renders the spot yours for at least two days while you're away at work. In Chicago, blocking a parking spot is illegal, but city officials acknowledge an informal rule of dibs if you've done the digging.

"I know this is public property, but if you spent hours laboring, I mean, come on, I think you have the right to say that is my spot," said Tanya Barbour, who spent two hours Sunday shoveling free her silver Ford Expedition in the 1500 block of T Street NW. "If someone had clearly taken the time to shovel it out, I would not take that spot because I would not want that done to me."

Across the District and in the Maryland suburbs Monday, many were not relying on Barbour's honor system. Some used Boston-style markers -- lawn chairs, recycling bins, orange cones, a mattress, even two bar stools with a Swiffer on top -- to try to save spots along residential streets.

Keith Green, 37, said he's heard too many scary stories to slip into a spot someone has blocked off. After the 1996 storm, a man was killed outside New York after a dispute over a shoveled parking spot. In Philadelphia in 2000, it happened again. In South Boston, a handful of assaults, slashed tires and other cases of vandalism end up in District Court each year after drivers are perceived to have broken the code. - Washington Post
Not for anything, but the problem would not be as great if DC let home owners park in their own driveways:
Driveways in D.C. Now a No-Parking Zone -
April 24, 2009 - 1:07am

Beverly Anderson is mad as hell. She just started to get tickets for parking in her own driveway.

That's right. The District of Columbia is ticketing people who park their cars in their own driveways.

"This is clearly an attempt by the city to extort money out of property owners," Anderson tells WTOP.

Anderson has received two of the $20 tickets in the past month. Anderson has owned the Capitol Hill house (and the driveway, so she thought) for more than ten years and has never gotten a ticket. And she's not alone.

It seems Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has also been breaking the law in the eyes of the D.C. Department of Public Works.

"Not only has the Congresswoman been ticketed in her own driveway, she has received a towing ticket on her car parked in her driveway," writes Sonsyrea Tate Montgomery, a spokesperson for Norton. "She did what any other Member would do -and any resident. She contacted her Council Member, Tommy Wells, who assured her the Council will take care of this problem even if it means passing a new law."

D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) says he's been getting lots of complaints.

"For the first time in anyone's memory," Wells says. "People are starting to get ticketed in their own driveways. This is ridiculous and we're going to get to the bottom of it."

To that end, Wells called the Director of the Department of Public Works, Bill Howland, to find out why his agency was issuing these tickets.

"I asked him what's going on," Wells said, "Is this some kind of revenue raising or policy change? He said he'd get back to me."

Wells said he asked Howland if his department would start issuing warnings for first time offenders.

"He said "No, we don't do that'," Wells said. "If the government is going to be unreasonable about this then we're going to have to look at changing the law."

So what does the law say?

"Any area between the property line and the building restriction line shall be considered as private property set aside and treated as public space under the care and maintenance of the property owner."

Basically what that means is most property owners in the District don't own the land between their front door and the sidewalk, but they are responsible for taking care of it. It's why you can get a ticket for drinking beer on your front porch in the Nation's Capital. You're technically on public space. It's also why the city can ticket you for parking in your own driveway if you don't pull your car deep enough into the driveway beyond the fa├žade of your house or building. - WTOP
Go read the whole story. In this case, the city again has a ridiculous suggestion to solve this problem, rent back the property you own from the city. Only then can you park in your driveway.

This is just one reason (of many) why we have not considered looking at any houses in DC as we look for a new place to live.

B.T.W. Here is a picture of my car almost dug out after the first blizzard a week ago.

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